pdfreaders campaign

Sam Geeraerts samgee at fsfe.org
Tue Jul 12 23:27:39 CEST 2011

Martijn Brekhof wrote:
> Ik zou het woord "onvrij" vervangen door "niet vrij". Onvrij wordt bij mij
> weten in NL nauwelijks gebruikt.

Personally, I always say "niet-vrij" (see also Dutch language guideline 
6.I [1]). I considered "onvrij", but for some reason it always makes me 
think of doublespeak. And I think "niet-vrij" just says "the opposite of 
free (as in freedom)" more clearly. It still sounds kind of awkward, but 
that's Dutch for ya.

Which brings me to a pet peeve of mine: a translation to Dutch should 
be, well, Dutch. The text's vocabulary is good, but "PDF reader" sticks 
out like a sore thumb. Wikipedia has a category "PDF-lezer" [2], a term 
that is simple, obvious and covers the load. "PDF-weergever" is more 
accurate, as it can hardly be confused with a person or a text-to-speech 
tool, but it sounds more forced.

Apart from these details, I think that the letter is certainly usable, 
but I agree with others here that the style could do with some 
improvement. The rather literal translation is a bit forced and it 
sounds harsher than the English text to me. As spa8blauw says, it makes 
sense to put the emphasis more on how to make things better than to 
point a finger.

I think most people aren't aware that there is something else than Adobe 
Reader (many aren't even aware that they're using a dedicated program to 
open PDF files). A lot of government websites are probably made or 
maintained by a technical person (at least the structural part including 
the PDF notice), but we can't assume we're always talking to a computer 
literate. Sometimes the direct contact person is "the content guy", who 
just forwards it to the maintaining web developer. If he cares enough to 
click that button in his mail client, that is. Or perhaps the website is 
maintained by that colleague who said he read a computer magazine once. 
So I think the first thing to make clear is that there is more than one 
program to open these files and that that choice is beneficial for everyone.

Secondly, we want to explain the advantages and importance of free 
software, because that's what we care about. Following that by subtly 
pointing out that linking straight to Adobe Reader is not a great idea 
(e.g. rephrasing "it's free advertising, making you Adobe's puppet"). 
Ideally, we'd steer them to realizing that they've been horribly wrong 
all this time, without actually telling them in so many words. It works 
best if they convince themselves [3].

Third point: if we're to suggest that they put a link to pdfreaders.org 
then they need to be confident that it's not going to be a dead link in 
a few months time. When dealing with questions from website visitors, a 
link to good ol' Adobe seems like a safer bet than one to a campaign 
website from a organization you never heard of, which on top of that 
faces users with a choice.

Then, we thank them for their attention and effort and we offer support 
regarding the issue.

Now all we need is a masterfully skilled writer to pour all this into a 
few short fluent paragraphs. :)

[1] http://woordenlijst.org/leidraad/6/3/#r6i
[2] http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorie:PDF-lezer
[3] Just to be clear: I'm not sitting in a high desk chair stroking a 
white cat here. :)

Sam Geeraerts

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